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20-year Milestone Coincides With Half A Million Dollars In Community Contributions

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles reaches 20 years in business this month coinciding with its ‘in kind’ contribution of more than $500,000 to community causes.

Owners Keith and Heather Knapp established Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles with Tim Jenkins in 2000 after Keith was originally contracted to build the company’s first vessel. He has since built 14 vessels in total for the business.

An engineer by trade, Keith anticipated that the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles business would be a good retirement option. However, the venture has steadily grown to employ 14 people year round, peaking at approximately 45 during the summer season. The staff includes seven family members. Heather coordinates marketing, sales, and any other jobs as required, with the exception of being a skipper. Keith and Heather’s grandson Jackson is the third generation licensed skipper working in the business.

Keith says that operating in the Abel Tasman National Park is a privilege and contributing to community projects such as Project Janszoon and the Birdsong Trust has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the past 20 years.

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles regularly takes groups of volunteers out to do conservation work in the Abel Tasman National Park and was heavily involved in initial work to eradicate wilding pines in the Park. The business also provides subsidised trips for school groups to increase awareness and educate the future generations about how to care for the environment.

“We’ve run regular trips as fundraisers for organisations such as Rotary which have raised more than $100,000 over the years,” says Keith. “Every cent from those fundraising trips goes straight to the charity. I find that work extremely rewarding.”

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Helping to encourage and develop the many young people who have worked with them has also been very special, says Heather.

“Working with us has helped to provide skills and opportunities for young people and it’s a really wonderful to see them blossom. In some cases, if school hadn’t really been their thing, it has helped them turned their lives around and establish careers in tourism or engineering.”

Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles is celebrating their 20th anniversary with some special offers. Go to their website at www.abeltasmanseashuttles.co.nz for more details. Check out their Facebook page for some special photos from the past 20 years for a trip down memory lane.

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